The coach industry “has not recovered” from the pandemic

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The bus and coach industry is not recovering from the impact of the Covid pandemic, according to a major local operator.

ohn Halpenny, Director of Dundalk-based Halpenny Coaches, is also Chairman of the Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC).

A recent CTTV survey found that 84% of private operators do not expect a financial recovery next year, after an almost negligible period of activity over the past eighteen months.

In the same survey, CTTC members were asked whether bookings for international coach tours had increased or decreased for 2022, compared to the same period in 2019. Each respondent noted a substantial drop in bookings – a striking finding, which is likely to alarm operators and the thousands of retail, hospitality and visitor attraction companies across the country.

The survey results offered a grim glimpse and revealed that in 2021: 93% of coach tour operators say their business has been significantly affected by travel restrictions on international visitors; 93% of respondents think low levels of consumer confidence are hurting their business 100% of operators say more needs to be done to improve confidence levels in public transport, after pandemic 73% of major Irish operators will be forced to downsize in 2022, which could lead to significant job losses.

As part of its submission to government ahead of the 2022 budget, the representative body requested that additional support be made available to industry this year in circumstances where the last round of funding available to operators was for 2020. The industry body is also calling for a resumption of the Business Continuity Scheme for coach tourism on an emergency basis, for 2022.
Responding to the survey, Dundalk tour operator John Halpenny said: “While the survey results will not surprise many people, they nonetheless offer a stark affirmation of the grim outlook currently facing the industry. coach tourism. After witnessing the complete decimation of their activities over the past eighteen months, for many operators, balance sheets are becoming increasingly unstable, with no certainty on the horizon.
“For many industries, the partial recovery in international tourism has marked the end of the tunnel – but this is not the case for our operators. The average lead generation time for international tourist bookings is at least 12 months or more. Realistically, we are faced with a scenario where most coach tour operators will not be able to resume their services significantly before June 2022. Such a dramatic drop in activity is likely to lead to a decrease in connectivity with rural tourism destinations in Ireland and significant job losses. , situations that must absolutely be avoided.
“Through several commitments in the Agenda for Government, coalition parties have shown that they recognize the crucial role that private bus operators play in helping to realize the full potential of the Irish tourism product. In view of these most recent findings, I urge the government to provide additional support to operators this year so that they are in the best position to take advantage of the 2022 season.

Looking ahead to next year, resuming the business continuity program on an emergency basis would provide a safety net for many “

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